The Hokuriku district is an area facing the Sea of Japan in the Chubu District located in the Honshu central part of Japan. We will introduce the three prefecture in the area, Ishikawa, Toyama and Fukui. The Hokuriku Shinkansen that is a new developed a bullet train from Tokyo to Kanazawa in Ishikawa prefecture. The Hokuriku Shinkansen was launched into creating a new business on March 14, 2015. We are able to go from Tokyo Station to the New Kanazawa station in approximately two hours and 30 minutes. Kanazawa is the town so-called the small Kyoto of Japan. The summer is now coming there with the new Hokuriku Shinkansen. This WEB site will continue to introduce this Hokuriku in series for visitors. When the door of the Shinkansen opens, it is the start of the trip that is new to longed-for Kanazawa. The new sightseeing course must be a next major one that is from Tokyo to Hokuriku area and after that going down to Kyoto via Shirakawa village, where has been authorized by the world heritage as well as Kyoto. Please enjoy this sightseeing route and be introduced sequentially from now on in this WEB site. We will introduce the traditional art object of Kanazawa, famous products including fresh fish, a lot of Sushi bar etc… At first, the Kanazawa foil products which is an industrial art object of Kanazawa are introduced in another page.
Kanazawa City, Little Kyoto: From the sheer cliffs and diversified rocks along the picturesque coastline seen from Wakasa Bay, Echizen-misaki (越前岬) Point, Tojinbo and Noto-hanto Peninsula (能登半島), to the mountainous scenery including the World Cultural Heritage Shirakawa-go Village and Kurobe Gorge, the Hokuriku region offers some of the most spectacular scenery in Japan. The Samurai culture of the Edo Period (1603-1867) flourished in Kanazawa which became a “Little Kyoto”. It is a home to artistic craft products that rival those of Kyoto for their beauty and refinement, and is also known for some of Japan’s most famous Zen temples.
Kaga Hyakumangoku: In the area of present-day Ishikawa Prefecture, the luxurious culture called Kaga Hyakumangoku thrived during the Edo Period. Hyakumangoku referred to the Kaga Clan’s rice crops, and was synonymous for its glorious prosperity. The Maeda Family, having passed through the severe wars and transition of the Warring State Period, ruled the Kaga Clan. Its first feudal lord in the Edo Period, Maeda Toshiie, had the fervent desire that there would not be any more wars so that the people of Kanazawa could live in peace. The successive Kaga feudal lords perpetuated his desire by striving to cultivate and maintain the rice fields making them productive despite the severe climate of this region known for its heavy snowfall in winter. At the same time, they strove to foster a brilliant culture that could compete with that of Kyoto. The feudal lords did this by gathering experts in tea ceremony, artisans and ceramists for social events, supported their artistic activities, and in this way inspired them to compete with each other. Even today, there are many kilns and art studios around the city of Kanazawa where Kanazawa Castle was located, and many artists have made it their home.
Kanazawa is blessed with a variety of foodstuffs, such as rice cropped in the Kaga Plain, Kaga vegetables, water of good quality in the Hakusan Mountains, and fish and shellfish caught in the Sea of Japan. Moreover, the production of soy sauce in the Ono area, advanced cooking techniques that was encouraged by the Maeda family, who ruled the Kaga Domain (the present Ishikawa and Toyama areas) in feudal times, and beautiful Kutani porcelain and lacquer ware raised the cooking culture of Kanazawa. There are high-class restaurants where people enjoy eating Japanese food in beautiful Japanese-style rooms while looking at a Japanese garden. Jibuni is traditional Kaga cuisine, made from boiled and seasoned duck coated with wheat, wheat gluten, and vegetables in thick soup.
A gold leaf is made by beating gold into an extremely thin sheet with a thickness of 0.1 to 0.125 millionths of a meter. It is so thin that it will disappear when you rub it with your fingers.
The production of gold leaf started in Kanazawa at the end of the 16th century. The Maeda family, who ruled the Kaga Clan (the present Ishikawa and Toyama areas) in feudal times, invited many artisans to Kanazawa. The Shogunate in Edo (present Tokyo), however, allowed gold beating in limited areas, such as Edo and Kyoto. Therefore, it is around the second half of the 19th century when the production of gold leaf was revived publicly in Kanazawa.
A rolling mill is used to thin gold mixed with a little silver and copper. The thinned gold sheet is sandwiched with special paper and beaten with a machine repeatedly to a thickness of around 2/10,000 mm. Presently, Kanazawa produces 99% of domestic gold leaf and 100% of domestic silver leaf and platinum leaf. These products generically called “Kanazawa haku” are Japan’s designated traditional handicrafts.
Gold leaf is used for handicrafts, such as vessels and ornaments, as well as the decoration of temples, shrines, Buddhist altars, and Buddhist instruments. Gold leaf technical stores in the city sell a variety of products, such as tissues using special paper used for the production of gold leaf, cosmetics containing gold leaf, and food containing gold leaf, besides gold leaf handicraft including chinaware, woodenware, ornaments, and accessories. Moreover, there are stores where you can see the production of gold leaf or experience gold leaf pasting to goods, such as vessels.
Shikki is called “japan” in English. As its name suggests, shikki is a typical handicraft of Japan. Japanese lacquer is repeatedly applied to processed hard wood, such as cypress and zelkova wood, to complete shikki. The Maeda family, who ruled the Kaga Clan (the present Ishikawa and Toyama areas) in feudal times, invited a master artisan early in the 17th century. This master artisan introduced Kanazawa Shikki. Japanese lacquer has an adhesion function. Therefore, a picture or pattern is drawn on the surface with gold powder, silver powder, and seashells put onto the surface. Kanazawa Shikki, which has splendid decoration, has been developed as furniture and artistic handicraft articles for the lord.
Besides, although shikki is weak to direct rays or dryness, it resists water and heat, and its gloss deepens while it is in use.
Yuzen refers to a traditional technique of dyeing silk fabrics for kimonos or products made with the technique. KyotoYuzen and Kaga Yuzen are famous. Miyazaki Yuzensai established the fundamental technique of yuzen at the beginning of the 18th century.
Kaga Yuzen is characterized by designs of realistic natural beauties in five vivid tones called “Kaga gosai” (literary means Kaga five colors), and it frequently uses gradation dyeing called “bokashi.” A roll of yuzen is completed through complicated processes, such as pattern transfer, paste coating, coloring, steaming, and rinsing. Kaga Yuzen with splendid, fine, beautiful patterns is known as a luxury brand.
There are stores where you can see the work process of Kaga Yusen, experience dyeing, or try on a kimono, in the city.